Many people have already tapped into the wonderful world of yoga. It goes without saying that yoga reduces stress, helps to relieve a lot of back pains, increases one’s lifespan, and is the perfect low-stress “exercise” to do at home. If you have yet to take up a practice, you may want to start at home, rather than join an organized class.
You may opt not to go to classes because you are a bit nervous, or perhaps it’s hard to find the time or childcare. Most studios do not offer childcare (though it is my hope that this will become something that happens in more community studios). I
Yoga classes for many people have become very costly. Practicing at home is an affordable way to get your practice in. The only truly necessary item you need to start is a mat – although with that said, I find myself using Mexican blankets more so these days. Sticky mats allow you to better grip the surface when you are in certain positions. Find one that is soft enough, and sticky enough for home use. If you are in the market for unique yoga mats, take a look at some of best ones I have ever found. Ask questions until you find just what you need.
There are many videos available online, and for home purchase, that will teach beginning (and beyond) yoga. It is always a good idea to learn as much about what it is that you want to obtain through your practice, and then learn what you can about the background of your instructor to be sure that your requirements will be met. That said, as your practice evolves, your needs will continue to shift, change, and grow in depth as you do.
Props and items will not cost you a small fortune, and practicing at home will save you tons of money that you would have to pay for an organized class.
Now that you have your supplies, and are certain you want to practice at home, make the commitment to yourself. If you joined an organized class you would go at a certain time, on certain days. Set up a similar routine for yourself at home. Practicing at the same time, for the same length of time, will further bring serenity into your life.
Start by setting up your personal practice space. You will need an area that is uncluttered and gives you enough room to stretch your body every which way. Make this area a calm, serene place to be: add artwork and objects that will help create a feeling of peace and tranquility as you work your mind and body.
The biggest bonus in taking up a personal home practice, is that as you get into a routine, your practice evolves naturally into what best suits your needs. If you don’t have a video to help you learn yoga, or even if you do, it might be wise to take at least one class to learn the proper techniques involved in practicing yoga.
General Guidelines for Deliberate Practice
1. Be patient. A large body of research confirms that it takes about ten years before most people develop into a virtuoso, whether you want to be a pianist or a titan of industry. Plus, that ten year figure seems to be a minimum rather than an average.
2. Aim for consistency. As you would expect, you must practice regularly. Just like kids forget their course work during summer vacation, you may squander your efforts if you take prolonged breaks.
3. Understand the learning curve. It’s natural to enjoy dramatic results when you first take up anything new. Then, you hit a plateau where you need to become more strategic if you want to keep advancing.
4. Hone in on specific areas. Identify the areas where you want to improve and focus your practice there.
5. Be prepared for lots of repetition. The willingness to endure repetitive drills is what distinguishes the best performers. Keep in mind that the most productive methods may not feel like a lot of fun.
6. Keep your sessions relatively brief (at the beginning). Pace yourself according to the amount of time during which you can maintain an effective level of concentration.
7. Set specific goals. Use a blend of goals related to both outcomes and the process itself. The important thing is to approach your movements with the mindset of enjoying them, before becoming better at them.
8. Expand your mental model. Try to identify all the factors that go into your chosen experience. Keep adding to the list and experimenting with new combinations. For example, keep a journal so you can spot what conditions support or sabotage your home practice.
9. Seek feedback. Outside observers (children, roommate, spouse) may be able to join you in your practice for fun or feedback. Partner up with a more experienced friend or hire an instructor for a session or two.
10. Evaluate your progress. Check in regularly to review how you’re doing. Ask yourself what is going well and where you need to make changes.
You may wish to get an instructor to come to your home to help you get started. The purpose of yoga is to enhance the strength and flexibility of the body as well as the mind. Taking a bit of time for focused, personal attention will ensure that you receive the maximum benefits from doing yoga at home.
What if you find certain aspects of both home practice and out-of-the-home structured classes attractive? Then you may want to look into joining an online club. This gives you access to podcasts, user guides and video direction from trained instructors, available in your particular time frame, and in the privacy of your home. And there are smartphone applications which allow you to complement your at-home practice with on the go, anywhere availability (access a free pose guide here to help you get started).
Whether learning at home versus in a structured class setting, you can access the many mind and body benefits this simple, spiritual and physical exercise delivers. Enjoy your journey!